- Adapted from an image by Daniela Vladimirova (CC License)
In the first article of this two-part series, we covered the basics of developing a marketing budget and gathering market research (access part 1 here). In this second article we will cover how to make use of market research data and the marketing budget through development of a marketing plan. A marketing plan provides a well-conceived course of action by which to set and attain goals, measure success, and anticipate changes in the market.
Though one can structure a marketing plan in countless ways, in REALTOR® University’s Master of Real Estate class “Real Estate Marketing” we utilized the marketing plan detailed in Chris Grover’s Sales and Marketing 101 for Real Estate Professionals book (available for checkout to REALTORS® via the NAR Library). This plan is straightforward, intuitive, and comprehensive. The book even provides an example marketing plan for a sales agent. Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers offers a free marketing plan template, too.
Mission and Vision
The first step is to develop a mission and vision statement, referred to in Grover’s book as a “Company Overview.” The mission and vision statement sets the foundation upon which to launch your business. It is difficult to move forward successfully without first defining your business and the ideals under which your business operates. The mission and vision statements should answer such questions as: what type of real estate do you sell?; Where is your business located?; Who founded your business?; What sets your business apart from your competitors?
After defining your business’ mission and vision, take a look at your business’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This is as known as a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis provides insight into your company’s vulnerabilities, your competition’s strengths and weaknesses, and ideas for expansion, growth, or altering course. Perhaps your business focuses on first-time home buyers, but market research shows this population is dwindling in your area. This is a vulnerability. However, market research might show new populations moving to your market area: can you adjust your target market to take advantage of these new populations? A SWOT analysis will highlight areas for improvement and strengths to promote in your marketing efforts, and identify strengths upon which to capitalize.
Now that you are armed with information about your target markets and your own strengths and weaknesses, the next step entails developing marketing objectives and setting goals. Marketing objectives apply laser-like focus on how to better reach your target audience(s) and connect with new audiences. Objectives may include concepts such as brand differentiation though establishing a niche market, a focus on developing brand loyalty, community event sponsorship, or community involvement through volunteerism (Munson, 2001, p. 28). During this process, one translates his/her mission and vision into tangible goals. If your mission statement seeks to make every client feel like your most important client: how specifically will you implement this? Do you want to grow your business? Is this growth measured by gross revenue, profit, personnel, or physical office space? Of course, I’ll use this opportunity to promote NAR’s many designations and certifications, which offer education and resources for differentiation and niche marketing.
The Four P’s
Marketing objectives and goals translate into the four P’s of marketing—Product, Place, Price, and Promotion—which offer a practical approach for implementing marketing objectives. What is your product? How does your price distinguish you from your competitors—is it industry average, upper quartile, or lower quartile? How does your pricing strategy benefit your clients? How and where will you promote your services? What types of promotions will you advertise? Will you ask clients for referrals or use coupons? Which channels will you use to place your marketing message?
Another important piece of the marketing plan includes team formation. If your marketing plan’s success is contingent upon the cooperation of your colleagues, then you need to establish a plan to get “buy in” from these individuals. Be sure to include specifics on what you need from them, such as the type of participation and commitment you will need from them. Spend time going over your marketing plan with these individuals to ensure they support your efforts.
Implementation, Assessment, and Monitoring
The last two steps of the marketing plan include implementation and assessment. Implementation and assessment are frequently overlooked aspects, yet enormously vital to the success of the marketing plan. Set dates (annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly) to review your business plans goals and address questions such as: are you on track? Were the goals reasonable to achieve, impossible, or too easy? How do you measure success—is it by revenue, profit, or number of transactions? What types of quantitative and qualitative data will you collect and use to measure your success?
In closing I would like to thank Dr. Margot Weinstein, the fearless instructor of REALTOR® University’s Real Estate Marketing class, Dagmar Sands for sharing her sage guidance on real estate marketing, and my extremely talented and skilled classmates. This article simply pulls together the creative, brilliant, and insightful ideas of the talented students, faculty, and supporters of REALTOR® University. If you’re interested in learning more about educational opportunities at REALTOR® University, check out www.realtoru.com.
Grover, C. (2007). Sales and marketing 101 for real estate professionals. Chicago, IL: Dearborn Financial Publishing, Inc.
Munson, M. (2001). Corporate sponsorships: Increasing your slice of the pie. Fund Raising Management, 32.2: 28-30.